opinion

OPINION: Rest in pieces, you worthless giant sloth



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The reconstructed Megalonyx Jeffersonii, a type of giant ground sloth, stands March 12 in the Franklin Hall Commons. Sarah Zygmuntowski

On behalf of my friends, professors and very patient baristas, I would like to offer my condolences for the “loveable” and “tolerable” centerpiece of the Franklin Hall commons, Megajeff. 

Sloths like that should come around once in a lifetime, but we were blessed to entertain it for nearly two months. In this difficult time, we have been made to reckon with our own mortality, in a way distinct from walking past a giant skeleton on the way to class every day. 

My name is Liam, and I was an associate of Megajeff’s. I met him with confusion as so many of us did.

I had no idea what caused our lives and his afterlife to become so entangled. Why was the Media School displaying a giant chipboard recreation of an ancient sloth? Well, because the IU Bicentennial office thought it was a fun idea to showcase a complex reconstruction of a notable fossil. 

It’s not like we have a Paleontology Collection at the Department of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences where this exhibition might be more appropriate. The ways of Megajeff were inscrutable to many, but I found comfort in his stoic demeanor.

He stood there below the giant TV every day, looking off center, slightly to his left. His brutish hands? (Paws? Claws? What do sloths even have?) If he was a person, you could imagine his big, once-beefy arms squared up in front of him, he had the stance of a star rugby player, perhaps bending over to eat a sub sandwich off the ground, briefly looking up to check that his boyfriend isn’t looking or something else relatable to the youth of today.

Megajeff cared about his community. In fact, I like to believe that Megajeff might have become a queer icon, given enough time. Megajeff himself never spoke about the topic. This leads me to believe that Megajeff would have instead been homophobic. The fossil record is incapable of indicating what Megajeff’s relationship to the LGBTQ movement was, but I know strong hips when I see them.

Perhaps the cruelest turn of events is that Megajeff was torn from his place in the Franklin Hall and spirited away to the Indiana Geological and Water Survey building. With the campus lockdown, no students were able to witness his removal. None of us got to say goodbye, and in this pandemic, there’s precious little time to mourn. 

I think the best thing to do to cherish his memory is for all of us to come together and tell the story of our happiest memory of Megajeff, disassembled after his time.

I’ll start.

I was sitting in the Indiana Daily Student newsroom when someone mentioned to me that they’d begun building a display of a giant sloth in the Franklin Hall. I looked over at the construction and said to the person next to me, “A sloth here? That’s an odd choice.”

Moments like that will never leave me, just as the spirit of Megajeff himself will forever haunt the Franklin Hall commons.

Years from now, Media School freshmen will feel the hair stand up on the back of their neck and know that the sloth is creepily looking over their shoulder.

Liam O'Sullivan (he/him) is a senior studying film and is an editor-in-chief of the Hoosier Flipside. He will stop at nothing to direct a Star Wars movie.

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